what retiring Chelsea has really taught me

I’m going shopping today! Carry on reading, it gets better I promise!
The thing is, for me, it’s one of the things I’ve really missed since Chelsea retired.
It sounds really over-dramatic, if there’s such a word, but I said to Mum the other day that I feel my life’s on pause until I get my new dog.
I’ve never been without a working guide dog for more than half an hour.
Vale retired on the day Chelsea took over from her.
She’d been semi-retired before that, so I could still get to a few places.
Obviously I was without one in Australia, and when I go on holidays.
I had no idea how it would affect me.
I feel really trapped!
I’m OK during the day – as I’m working until about 6.
Weekends are the most frustrating.
I’m going out shopping twice this weekend though, with friends.
Also, I’m thinking about taking my cane, Michael for a spin round Canton tomorrow! (you have been warned)
I know I’m incredibly lucky to still have Chelly; she’s turned into a real puppy since she retired.

But, the biggest thing It’s taught me is how lucky I am!
I know! Strange isn’t it?
I’ve only been working for the local society for the blind for the last 7 months.
However, I’ve realised how lucky I am that I was born blind.
This is an incredibly controversial statement I know.
But it’s just how I feel!
Imagine it!
You worked all your life, perhaps as a doctor, teacher, bricklayer, as an artist, whatever! It doesn’t really matter!
Then you start having trouble with your vision!
Little things at first.
“Ah, it’s only my age,”
You might think.
Then you might get a bit of pain in your eye, or things might look blurry and strange.
Then things get worse and you’re told you’ve lost, or are losing your sight.
You’ve then got to cope with it!
How do you cope?
The answer is dictated by the amount of support you get.
I’ve had conversations with people where they’ve been in tears because nobody has been out to see them for months, even years.
We then step in and arrange either home visits, or whatever support they might need.
Sometimes we fail.
Sometimes, we make a real difference!
It’s my choice to be without a working guide dog!
I have chosen it as it’s the kindest thing for Chelsea.
So, my frustrations are because of the choices I’ve made!
But nobody “chooses” to be blind.
I am so thankful that the small things we do each day in our organisations make a difference.
Today, I’m going to ring a lady in the valleys and tell her she can start reading again!
There’s a service for people who are housebound.
Someone pops round each month with a selection of audio books.
She’ll get part of her life back.
It’s not through what I do, it’s through what I’ve been enabled to do, through the grace of God, who allowed me to be born blind!
So, when I’m clinking and clanging my way through Cardiff tomorrow and I start feeling cross –I’ll stop and think!
This is my choice!
Then, I’ll go and eat cake!

If you’d like to follow my adventures you can find me on twitter at:
http://www.twitter.com/nickiandchelly
For more information on RNIB’s work visit:
http://www.rnib.org.uk
and for Wales:
http://www.rnib.org.uk/wales

We also run social groups, such as book, ladies, discussion, rambling and heaps of others at Cardiff institute for the blind
http://www.cibi.co.uk

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